The Marie Curie Initial Training Network SPOT-ITN is a multi-site network of early stage and experienced researchers at 9 partner institutions - including 3 from the private sector - in 4 European member countries and Israel to investigate fundamental and applied aspects of thermotolerance mechanisms contributing to the protection of pollen development at increased ambient temperatures. The envisioned joint research program is of broad commercial interest and will be an important contribution to the efforts undertaken world-wide to ensure future stability of food production in view of the prognosticated global climate change. Although the initial focus will be on tomato as an important agricultural crop, the results are expected to become applicable to other cultivated plants in the long run.
Based on individual research projects of the young researchers, the main focus of the network will be to perform common, multidisciplinary experiments on a broad variety of heat-sensitive and heat-tolerant tomato genotypes and mutant lines at the molecular, cellular and organismic level with two major objectives: i) to describe the molecular basis of the striking sensitivity of pollen development at higher temperatures and regulation of pollen-specific heat stress response and thermotolerance mechanisms; and ii) to develop BIOMARKERS of POLLEN THERMOTOLERANCE usable in future screening programs to improve breeding of new heat-tolerant cultivars. Besides training of specific research tasks, the multi-disciplinary research program includes advanced methods and high-throughput technologies in plant genetics, molecular and cell biology, physiology, and bioinformatics. In addition, a multitude of opportunities are provided for training complementary skills to broaden the knowledge of the young researchers for developing their future career with comprehensive possibilities in a wide field of research areas in Life Sciences in both, the public and the private sector.